Even after three caminos I’m finding myself debating exactly what gear to bring on this year’s walk. I leave tomorrow — just 25 hours from now — so decision time is at hand.
There are a few things I know are handy, but they add extra weight — and weight is the bane of pilgrims and long-distance trekkers. Some items I know I can buy if and when I need them.
Here what I’ve settled on for my Camino del Norte (2012):
- Hiking towel — lightweight, dries very quickly. I’ve used this one on pilgrimages for years.
- Liquids — these will ultimately go in my toiletry bag, but for airport purposes they’re in a transparent, plastic sack. They include liquid soap, toothpaste, eye drops and sun block lotion
- Toiletry bag and toiletries — this has my dry toiletries, and ultimately my liquid ones once I arrive. Toothbrush, nail clipper, dental floss.
- Airline tickets, directions, other papers — these stay in an outer compartment in my pack for each access.
- Guidebook — also in an outer compartment.
- Camelbak water bladder — 2 liter size. Dry until I arrive, then I fill it with trustworthy tap or bottled water
- Gloves — Sometimes I only need these once or twice, but when I do, they’re nice to have. Super lightweight.
- Toilet paper — goes in an outer compartment in the pack for when nature calls and no indoor plumbing is available.
- Rain cover for backpack — into an outer compartment.
- Rain jacket — I find it easier to use a Gore-Tex style rain jacket than to have a bulky poncho that is hard to get over my pack and catches the wind.
- Warm fleece — I’ll wear this onto the airplane. For cool days and mornings.
- Hiking boots — my trusty Treksta Assault GTX boots
- Passport and credential — these two important items stay in a waterproof bag in an external pocket for easy access.
- Sleeping bag liner — treated with Permethrin. Keeps the random bed bug away.
- Camp shoes — super lightweight North Face shoes with comfy, padded soles. For a break from boots after hours.
- Blister kit — includes small scissors, needles, thread, band-aids, Compeed, moleskins
- Sleeping bag and inflatable pillow in stuff sack — very lightweight, down bag good to 40F and super lightweight inflatable pillow. I also have a tiny LED flashlight attached to the zipper of my sleeping bag in case I need it.
- Clothes bag — Having a light “cube” bag allows my clothes to stay together in my pack. Clothes include 3 pair hiking socks, 3 pair sock liners, 2 hiking shorts, 3 technical t-shirts
- Airline clothes — my long, lightweight hiking pants, collar shirt, 1 pair undershorts, belt. These items ultimately go into the pack, but the long pants (along with my fleece) help me stay warm in cool airplanes and airports.
- Tech bag — charger, plug adaptor, charging cord for phone, charging cord for camera, extra camera battery, telephone, waterproof bag for telephone.
- Mylar foil emergency blanket — won’t ever hike without this. A survival blanket that I can use if weather requires or in case of injury where help might not arrive for hours.
- Sleeping pad — this is a luxury item. I take it out for when I’m enjoying my afternoon siesta. Also there for the odd time in which I might need to sleep outdoors — it happened once.
- Not shown: writing pad and pen, magazines for on the plane (thrown away when done), credit card, debit card (for ATMs), baseball cap, sun hat.
Total weight: 16.2 pounds. Well within the 20 lbs (or 10% of bodyweight) recommended. Ooops, almost forgot my scallop shell.
OK. I think I’m ready!